St. Thomas More makes first girls hoop semifinals: Ravens defeat Hodgson 52-47

St. Thomas More’s Jessica Simmons shoots against Hodgson during the state quarter finals girls basketball championship at the University of Delaware on Sunday . Delaware State News/Marc Clery

NEWARK — That small Catholic school in Magnolia is going where it has never gone before.

The St. Thomas More girls’ basketball team is into the DIAA state semifinals for the first time in school history.

Aniah Patterson’s 17 points paced the Ravens to a 52-47 victory over Hodgson in the quarterfinals Sunday afternoon at the Bob Carpenter Center. St. Thomas More had only reached the quarterfinals once before, where it fell short in 2016.

“I always hear it, no one knows what or where St. Thomas More is,” Patterson said. “People are going to know now what St. Thomas More is after this.

“It’s truly amazing,” Patterson added. “People really doubted us like, ‘St. Thomas More can’t do this, St. Thomas More can’t do that.’ But we had to prove it to everybody.”

St. Thomas More, the tournament’s fifth seed, will meet top-seeded Caravel Academy on Wednesday night in the semifinals. Game time is 8 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center.

St. Thomas More’s Olivia Lynch against Hodgson in the first half during the state quarter finals girls basketball championship at the University of Delaware on Sunday . Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Patterson hit the go-ahead basket for the Ravens on Saturday.

Hodgson had just taken a 42-40 lead on Imani Henry-Butler’s jumper when Patterson buried a three-pointer from the right wing with 2:51 left. After a defensive stop, Olivia Lynch added a layup for St. Thomas More to go up 45-42.

Lynch then made three free throws and DahNaija Barnes hit two of her own to cap off a 10-0 run.

Hodgson was able to draw within a possession on Kayla Braxton-Young’s three-pointer which made it 50-47. But Barnes broke a press, got the ball to Sophia Stafford, who quickly passed to Jessica Simmons for an open layup in the closing seconds.

The Ravens rallied from a 30-26 halftime deficit by holding Hodgson scoreless from the floor in the third quarter. St, Thomas More only gave up four free throws to the Silver Eagles in the third.

St. Thomas More had made it to the Bob Carpenter Center two years ago but dropped a 60-47 result to Concord in a game the Ravens only trailed by two points going into the fourth quarter.

Patterson, Barnes, Simmons and Stafford were all freshmen or sophomores on that squad.

St. Thomas More’s Jessica Simmons shoots against Hodgson during the state quarter finals girls basketball championship at the University of Delaware on Sunday . Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“We were very young when we first came to the Bob Carpenter Center,” said St. Thomas More coach Crystal Gordon. “Now we’re more mature, so we make better decisions and can keep our composure a lot better.”

Barnes finished with 15 points and went 10-of-12 from the free throw line for the Ravens. Simmons was also in double figures with 10 points and added nine rebounds.

Lynch scored eight with 12 rebounds while Stafford grabbed 10 rebounds.

Patterson only went 2-of-10 on her three-point attempts but made the biggest one of the game.

“We tell her all the time she’s a shooter,” Gordon said. “Everyone goes through that. It’s basketball, you’re going to miss but you have to trust the process. You have to keep shooting, it’ll eventually go in.”

This was the third time Hodgson and St. Thomas More met this season.

The Ravens opened with a 42-38 loss to Hodgson but defeated the Silver Eagles 51-39 in the Pat Borowski tournament over the holiday break.

“We know what they do so it was basically who had the most heart,” Patterson said. “We had to go out there and play like we had the most heart and we had to play as a team.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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